We have a great studio space set up at our house in the Canyons. When we decided that this space was going to be the studio, I was excited to figure out how to paint it. When I sat up in the space I thought that it was sad that you didn’t see the view of the Canyon that was off in the distance. So, I thought that I would paint a quick mural that gave an impression of the Canyon being there. This brightened up the space a bit, but kept a lot of the green color that I really liked. I then painted some plant graphics to also go along with this theme of being outside.
The studio is a loft space that is above the living room and off of the kitchen. There is a unique door that can be closed or opened. Here it is open.
When the door is closed, I have the backside set up for inspiration, to-do projects and a view of part of my art collection.
The portraits seen here are Michelle Ramin‘s work. There is a collection of paintings from artists during my time living in Portland, Oregon as well as some of my own.
In this window I have the urn for my former dog Topher. When he was alive he was always my in my studio in a sunny spot. This seemed like the perfect place keep him. I still miss this dog so much!!
I found a sewing machine table at a yard sale for $5. I threw together some extra legs for the table so that I could have my Janome machine on it. This machine can come off easily for me to use my serger here as well. My White vintage machine sits perfectly in the table and is what I use for basting stitches. Above this table I set up a shelf that holds my brushes and clear rulers for cutting.
To the left of this is my cutting table. It is adjustable and can even be set at an angle. I got this table at IKEA if you are interested in getting one for your own studio! Above this, I have my threads. To the left I have my rolling rack that has my sewing tools. To the right in the pink drawers are my serger threads, bike inner tube shapes, buttons and beads. The light above was my Grandmother Mary’s Captain lamp. I still need to find a new lampshade for him. The last one didn’t make it through the move.
Behind the table I have my fabrics. Lets just say that I had twice the amount of fabrics before we moved. This is what I have now…I organized it in types: UFO’s (a sewing term for unfinished projects), featured prints, accent prints, “The Insides” (stabilizers, batting, etc.), and garment fabric. It is really helpful to have them in different sections.
Stuart has his table set up here as well. My dress form hangs out in this area. I may be teaching some garment construction classes soon and this guy will be busy. When the door is open, I have my ironing board set up in the open space.
Here is the view out of the studio into the kitchen. I love sitting here while Stuart is cooking dinner. I created a pulley system with this basket to bring stuff up and down. Not sure if it works that great, but nice to have as an option. I also have a Vanessa Calvert sculpture resting in the corner. I enjoy seeing this when I climb down the ladder.
Next to Stuart’s desk is “The Thinker.” I enjoy this little guy in the space because it references historical art in the studio and also reminds me of the artist “thinking” about projects. There is so much that goes into creating something and sometimes just sitting down and figuring out what that can be is one of the hardest parts.
Do you have a space set up at your house for creating things?
Stuart and I have been busy working on projects! We have moved into a lovely house in the Butte Creek Canyon area of Chico, California. This post is about how we created a special window treatment for the kitchen windows. This is Stuart’s design, Shibori dying, and my sewing. Stuart thought that there was already a Japanese look to the windows with the bamboo. Creating curtains with the Shibori technique would fit well with this. We used a guide on how to create a Roman Shade from a Martha Stewart book and adjusted it slightly.
Stuart first got some white cotton fabric, objects to wrap, the Indigo Tie Dye kit, cording, binder clips, rubber bands, a plastic container and water. He wrapped the items with the twine and then prepared the dye-bath.
First he added the soda ash and then the dye. After stirring it together he started to place things into the bath. He was careful not to mix too fast to incorporate air bubbles.
He created some small pieces for some other projects. For the curtains, he wrapped them around pipes.
This is how they came out! Shibori is awesome! Great job Stuart!
Next, he cut some wood strips for the top and we got some Roman Cording Tape that had plastic circles already sewn to them (It can be cut by the yard). I then measured the windows and used my serger to clean up the edges. I used my zipper foot to attach the cording. I sewed on each side of the two white ridges careful not to sew over the white loops. I hemmed the bottom and attached the cording. The rope can be sewn into the bottom, but Stuart wanted it to be removable if needed.
We used some of the dyed twine to put it all together. I stapled the top of the fabric to the piece of wood. I had a bunch of hanging hardware and we used this to hang the curtains to the hooks that were already in the window. We added some little hooks for the rope to connect to. Stuart cut some bamboo for the top and middle and then chunks for the end of the rope.
The curtains can go up and down very easily.
Here is what it looks from the outside. It has been a fun way of working together on a creative project.
This is what it looked like when we first moved in. Stuart added the rest of the bamboo to finish off the top as well. The loft above is the studio. I will share soon what we have done with this space.
I will leave by sharing a shot from my favorite time of day. I love how the light falls in on the plant.
Do you have a window that you would like some tips on? Having a custom window treatment is awesome and well worth the effort of creating it.
One of the goals for when I was a high school art teacher was for the students to be proud of their work. There is so much stress to get a good grade, have others like you, and deal with becoming an adult. Having an art show is a great way of focusing your energy on something exciting. I wanted to give my students this opportunity. At the end of the school year, I planned an art show for the students that took place at my friend Silas Hagerty’s movie theater in Kezar Falls. It is a space that he has been lovingly restoring and I thought that it would be the perfect place for an art show! If you are an artist, student or teacher, here are a few tips from the show.
1- Curating work: Collect artwork from students as the year goes along. Create excitement about having a certain piece in the show. I saw a lot of smiles on students faces when I asked them to bring something in for the show. I didn’t have it as a requirement. I wanted the student to feel free to be part of it and not feel like an obligation. (Featured Breana-Fish, Troy-Tiger, Karie- Rooster & Eagle, Sam- Animation & Cat).
2- Find a location: Find a space that has a large amount of room. A local town hall, fire station or restaurant may work. Having a show outside of the school can influence other folks in the town to attend. If they don’t have a student at the school, they may not attend it. This can be a community building show.
3- Hanging Work: Think about how the work can be hung. Most places do no like it when holes are added to walls. Think about other ways of hanging work: bringing in some boards, hanging on curtains, using artist masking tape, using binder clips, etc.
4- Hanging Show- Having students help install the show gives them confidence about what else they can do. Once you see how to set things up, it may inspire interest in creating work for more shows. Here, Jackie’s smile really shows how proud she is of the work that she has created and was a great help installing. Thanks also to Megan and a few of my friends who helped install as well. (Thanks Christina and Rebecca!)
5. Excitement for the show: Encourage students to create work for the show. As an artist, scheduling a show is a way of actually getting work done. If I have a deadline, I am way more productive. Haley created this amazing piece to be in the show. Any moment she could find she worked on it. It was great to see her dedication to the piece.
6. Opening: Share with the local paper, Facebook page, and create posters that can be hung about the show. Contact local businesses to see if they are donate food or drinks for the opening. Our local grocery store, Call’s Shop’n Save graciously donated some soda water for the event.
7. Special Thanks! Below is Mr. Mayer (my partner and was the Digital Arts teacher) and Mrs. Shields (she is the art teacher whom I substitute taught for). Silas Hagerty (owner of the Kezar Falls Theater) and Don Isaacs (school board). Thanks everyone for your influence, your enthusiasm, and dedication to the students. It was such an incredible experience for me and I hope that it was influential for the students as well.
If you have any questions just send me email. I loved having shows and it would be great to help you with yours!
In 2013, we moved from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. We towed a vintage travel trailer with a Uhual. I had rebuilt the vintage travel trailer from a shell and thanks to some lovely supporters I was able to bring the trailer across the country with a Kickstarter. I have lovingly built the trailer, enjoyed my time in it and learned an incredible amount. It is now time for someone else to enjoy the space.
In August, Stuart and I are going to be traveling across the country again. We are simplifying these days. This next trip is going to be just us in a car with a pod of our stuff shipped without us. This was a huge decision for us, but makes the most sense.
If you are interested in purchasing the trailer, please email me at email@example.com. I am pricing it at $4,000. Below is more information:
This is a 1967 Aristocrat Lo Liner. It has been rebuilt to keep the aspects of a travel trailer but also used as a creative space. This is perfect for someone who wants to have a little space of their own in their backyard or take on little adventures.
It sleeps 3. The couch area folds out to sleep two comfortably. The table when I rebuilt it has a few options. It can be broken down to sleep one as well. It also folds open and can have a larger work surface for cooking, creating or whatever you would like.
The wiring has been redone. There is a faucet that works connected to a hose and one that works connected to a tank that sits inside the trailer. It has a working three burner stovetop (oven starts but probably needs a new Thermocouple to stay lit). There is a tiny electric travel fridge. The green fridge door that you see in the photo is just a hollow door hiding the smaller fridge behind it along with storage. I also added a gas lamp above the stove. The footstool above is actually a covered travel toilet. (This trailer does not have a bathroom).
There is a closet and many areas of storage. I have also created an awning for the exterior as well.
Ideally I would like to sell my trailer to someone who enjoys what they see in these photos. I have put a lot of work into rebuilding the trailer. It is a great space to be in. It will be sad to see it leave, but I know that it will bring great memories to others! I have the title and registration, but it does have expired Oregon plates. If you are interested in seeing it, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks and please feel free to share with anyone who you may think would be interested!
It was just a few days ago that I had my last day of teaching art at Sacopee Valley High School. The school needed a long term art sub. Since I lived in the area and was an artist with an MFA I decided to take the position. Really this was my first full time teaching job. I taught a course prior to this at the Maine College of Art in their Pre-College program. In my mind, this gave me some experience working with this age group, but really it was just a drop in the bucket. Learning how to manage the classroom while doing it, was one of the biggest challenges for me. Making sure I kept all of the students in the classroom, keeping them focused on their projects and not fighting with each other was a constant battle. A teacher is always on guard and has to be ready for any situation.
They worked on the usual high school art projects (learning perspective, drawing with a grid, printmaking techniques, etc.) As someone who loves to sew, I wanted to introduce this to some of the students as well (Home Economics is no longer offered). I wanted to show them how their art can have a positive influence in their community. So, I planned two things that were not already planned out. One class sewed a quilt together and I also created an Art Show for them at a local theater (Part two blog post coming soon).
1. The Quilt:
Personally, I have been sewing for seven years. I first started with garment construction for myself and then creating bags that I could sell. I went to school for painting, but there has been something about constructing with fabric that has really won me over. That being said, quilting wasn’t necessarily my thing. The hours involved cutting the same shape and following a pattern really didn’t interest me.
One of my classes was for the “Advanced Art” students. It was open for them to choose their own projects. One student learned that I sewed garments and wanted to make a skirt. Of course I was thrilled. We started the process of adjusting a pattern to fit, creating a muslin and I tried to explain to her how to sew it. I really needed a machine in the classroom. I came across a new Brother Sewing machine at a yard sale and bought it for $12. I was so excited for just this! I was able to then directly show her how to sew the skirt together.
So, at this point I had a sewing machine in the classroom. I had one class where a group of girls would combine two tables together and complain about things. It reminded me of a “bitch and stitch.” The looked like quilters sitting around a quilt hand stitching something together (All individual projects at this point).
This gave me an idea. There was a bag of fabric in the classroom and I remember liking the look of the Gee’s Bend Quilts. Their quilts were creating using clothing and scraps and not necessarily using a pattern. So, right before the start of spring break, I presented these students with a plastic bag of fabric and a slide show about the quilts. They
didn’t seem interested, but I knew that it was something that could really mean something to them later in life.
This spring break started with attending an Estate Sale. My sister loves them and shared with me that there was one in my town. There was a photo of large thread stand and I knew there would be more sewing material along with this. I ended up getting an incredible amount of tools, fabric, sewing books, thread, and another sewing machine.(Some purchased and some donated by the company for the students) My friend Patty who owns the Quilt shop in town donated her amazing scrap fabric from her sewing projects and another local Paul donated one of his unused sewing machines and even more fabric. I got another machine from a local thrift store. By the end of spring break, I had two carloads of fabric, four sewing machines, a small library and a thrill of being able to share this with the students.
One class I had the students set up a corner of the room, choose fabrics for the quilt and it all began. Oh, yeah, with all of this I also had to learn how to quilt before I taught them…They say that you teach what you want to learn. So, my friend Patty gave me some tips, I looked over my books, watched videos and realized that maybe quilting is for me as well. I love painting, but sewing has had a watch over me for years. Being able to combine colors, draw with thread by “free motion quilting” made so much sense for me.
The students worked on this and their individual projects. We still sewed pieces together in the crazy quilt style and then I sewed it together with traditional borders. Most of them had never threaded a needle, worked with fabric or even ironed. These are things that I feel everyone should have some experience with. It also gives them a possible skill when looking for work. They all used a sewing machine and may not be as scared to try it out later in life.
The last day of working on the quilt I had them combine the tables together and everyone hand stitched the binding edge together. Of course many of them complained about it and I laughed and shared that they inspired it. The class gave this quilt to a teacher in the school that is always making things for other people. She was thrilled to get it and made sure to hug each of the students. This meant that they were able to see how coming together to create this for someone else can really be powerful. Since the sewing machines were set up, other students were interested in creating projects. Here, one student created an amazing quilt of flags. She looked at photos of flags and came up with each piece
without a pattern. Excellent job Michala! A bunch of students also created pillows! It was a quick way of sewing something together and having the satisfaction of a great finished project!
I really enjoyed teaching with these students! Some days were a challenge, but overall I am very happy that I took the position! It was because Zoe wanted to make this skirt that the students got to learn how to sew and that one table of sassy girls brought quilting into my own life.